Wedding design themes and locations come in all shapes and sizes, including a cute-as-can-be rustic chic wedding. Rustic aged wood, modern copper accents, and wildflowers help to define this bride's style. Our bakery created a versatile country ruffled two tiered wedding cake. A perfect flavor combination for this type of event would be our buttermilk blackberry cake or our vanilla lemon chiffon cake.
Gold and Copper Metallic Accents are all over 2017 wedding cake designs. Edible gold dusts and paints come in all shades that allow wedding cake designers to paint directly on the cake. Gold and ruffle accents are sometimes best in small increments or accents layers. For example: one layer or tier of cake can frosted plain and the next tier can be have a pop of gold. this way the eye can rest and the cake looks classy without being overdone.
Do you remember what your heart feels like on Christmas? My heart feels this way starting in October because this is when I start opening up my chocolate confections book and start practicing my holiday menu! I have narrowed down my holiday menu in December to 4 items: Chocolate truffle boxes, Gingerbread Cake, Gluten Free Yule Longs, and Soft Salted Caramels. The truffle boxes and caramels are made the second week in December is they are CRAZY fresh for you and your family!
As our 2016 wedding season slows down and comes to an end, It has been fun to look back at our recent wedding cake photographs and see what types of wedding desserts we sold. Without any doubt: naked cakes, ruffles, and cupcakes were at the top of the list this year. We had a large demand for rustic cake stand rentals, in fact our most popular cake stand was a wood cake stand. One of our best investments we had made all year was a large tiered cupcake stand, which helped up keep up with the demand for cupcake sales. Dessert variety tables were also in high demand. Couples wanted cake pops, French macarons, layered shooter cups, truffles, and mini cupcakes to be spread out on beautiful tables for wedding guests to graze on through the night. Metallic accents were just starting to trend in the La Crosse, WI area and I predict that this trend will grow in 2017. My predictions for 2017: cupcakes and metallic accents will continue to rise. Naked cakes will start to decline. Geometric and simplified geometric industrial designs will start to emerge. Cake pops and French macarons will start to become more common as well.
There are so many choices for wedding desserts! The options and price tags can be confusing. Here is a quick guide (with an insider's perspective) to help you understand your choices and how to have a great wedding dessert experience!
1. Understand the tone of your wedding. What words pop into your mind: bold, classic, modern, rustic, simple, natural, fun, etc. Understanding your theme is the best way to make sure you are picking a design and dessert that will work for you.
2. Know your budget! Here is what you need to know: The average wedding cake in Wisconsin in 2015 cost $500.00. Many parents who are contributing financially initially think a wedding cake should cost around $350.00. An artisan cake baker's average might be a little higher than $500.00, if you go to Walmart it will be a little lower. When you walk into your first wedding cake consultation it is very important to discuss financial boundaries, especially if a family member is contributing. Every person who walks in has a different assumption of what a wedding dessert should cost and what they are willing to spend.
This is a great example of budgets and it just happened recently: At the end of a consultation the future bride got up to go to the bathroom. While she was gone, the bride's mother told me that she was the one paying for the cake and I needed to talk with the her daughter about decorating options that were less expensive. The bride had chosen detailed artisan piping over the top of her 3 tiered cake and it had added an additional $100.00 to the total cost. After many years of cake consultations I feel like I have become a pro at mediating situations like this. The key here is to talk about the budget and expectations before the consultation and be honest during the consultation about where your boundaries are. I want every person to leave a consultation feeling excited about their dessert, not overwhelmed by the price tag.
3. Hidden fees apply. It is not uncommon for bakeries to charge delivery fees, set up fees, and cake stand rentals. Does your venue charge a cake cutting or dessert fee? If you ordered your dessert from a catering facility will they charge an 18% service charge to your total bill? You may pick your wedding dessert baker for their low prices, but make sure you understand what the TOTAL will be, not just what the cost of the cake is. You might be surprised that a more expensive bakery might be the same price as an inexpensive bakery when everything is said and done.
4. Know that the pictures you see in magazines are most often “Cadillac” or “Show Cakes”. The price tag on these types of cakes can be very expensive, usually starting around $1,000.00 and often times cost more. There are many reasons why: The artisans who create these types of cakes can spend all week decorating fine details, they are usually covered in fondant, and they often have edible detailing like handcrafted sugar flowers. Do not let this discourage you. An experienced cake decorator will understand how to take inspiration from these designs and work it into a dessert that is perfect for you and your budget.
5. Having fake “Styrofoam” cake layers is not a way to reduce cost. Many cake decorators do not understand how this myth was started. Think about it: It costs money to purchase and ship Styrofoam cylinders in. Then, this cylinder has to be prepped, frosted and decorated just like every other tier. Plus, you will still need to purchase sheet cake for your guests. In the end it might save a little, but certainly not enough to offset the hassle.
6. There are more options than just cake! Having unique options such as cheesecake, flourless chocolate cake, crème brulee, key lime pie, and tiramisu are all options that every guest would enjoy. If you are not a “dessert” person you could have caramel dipped pears with a cheese course served after your meal!
7. Make sure you find a bakery with a great reputation. Your wedding day is a big day and you want to find someone or place you trust. Look at past pictures from work they have done. If you have an Aunt who wants to make your cake (unless she is a skilled decorator) please be cautious and realistic about what the final product may look like.
8. You do not have to pick a cake design that is too “matchy matchy” with your theme. In fact, I think the best cakes are sometimes the ones that fit into the overall theme, but are unique in their own way.
9. If you desire a cake with specific colors in mind, please understand that edible food colors only have a limited number of shading options. It can be very difficult for a cake decorator to make an exact color match, especially with dark blue and purple tones.
10. Do not be afraid to have fun with your wedding cake flavors. Obviously your first concern should be that you want a moist cake that cuts easily. Beyond that, it is okay to do something unique. Try flavors like: Earl Grey and citrus, rhubarb and tangerine, lavender and blackberry. You want your dessert to be memorable and you want to give your guests a fun dessert experience.
11. When in doubt, keep your design more simple than complicated. When you try to fit too many designs and patterns in to a tiered wedding cake it runs a fine line between confusing and classy.
12. I get asked often, “Why does wedding cake cost so much?”. Let me take a quick minute to explain, because I understand from an outsider’s perspective the cost of a wedding dessert is intimidating. The biggest reason it a wedding cake is expensive is because there is a high cost to having a fully licensed business and a food certified space. We also need reliable industrial equipment that will mix large batches of dough, bake at an even temperature, and keep our product cold enough. Do not forget rent and other monthly utility bills. The cost of having a cake tasting and consultation needs to be added to the overall price. The time it takes to delivery a wedding cake has to be factored in, not to mention the wear and tear of using a vehicle to transport food. For wedding cakes, one of the best ways to find clients is have a booth at a wedding expo. Bakeries supply free dessert samples to hundreds of people. The total cost of having a booth at such events can easily cost over $2,000.00 each time. Also understand that wedding cake decorators work when people celebrate, which means that we work double time on Fridays, Saturdays, and often Sundays. Many artistic elements may not be high in price, but can easily add and additional 2-3 hours of work on each order. For example a gumpaste rose may only cost $3.00 in materials, but will take a whole hour of wages to hand craft and mold each petal. Trust me, most decorators are artists at heart (a far cry from a bottom - line business-type people) and we want to give each client the best possible cake, even it means underselling our product and time to make sure you have a cake that is in your budget. We are in this business because we love what we do and we want to make people happy and somehow make a living wage while we are at it!
13. It is good etiquette to do a little research of dessert ideas BEFORE the consultation, not DURING the consultation. It is really helpful for a decorator to understand your style and what direction you would like to take. If you come into a consultation with no idea of what you want it can be frustrating to the designer. Dessert consultations are usually complementary and often include your family members. You do not have to have it all figured out, but it is very courteous to everyone if you spend at least 10 minutes ahead to find out what makes you happy. For example: if you need to spend 20 minutes paging through Pinterest during your consultation you are cutting into the time you could be getting really great detailed information and product quotes from your decorator.
14. Family is great, but limit the amount of people you bring to a cake consultation. Bring only people who are contributing financially and the people you really want to be there. In my experience, it is best to keep it to 4 or less people. I understand there are times where both sets of parents want to be involved and you have to have more. In my experience, the more people who are involved the harder it is for the bride or couple to make a decision. I remember one tasting where an older sister gave her opinion on everything and steered the bride to a design she did not love. We ended up having to have a secondary meeting where the bride changed all of the details! If your future Mother in Law drives you crazy and she is not contributing financially, do not feel obligated to have her come along. Wedding cake consultations are more than just tasting cake, the majority of the time is spent crunching numbers and filling out contracts. It is relaxing and most of the time it is fun, but it is not a time to be entertaining your extended family.
My favorite part of Meringue is when I can work with a couple and create a wedding dessert that is truly custom to who they are and the message or feeling they want to give to their guests. This couple is a great example of how to think outside of the box. Let me start by saying they are the nicest couple. Both sweet and thoughtful. On the outside they do not appear to romantics, but just a few moments into meeting with them I had this feeling like they were both so appreciative to to have found one another. They told me a story of when they were driving through Laramie Wyoming. At the time, this man looked over to his (then) girlfriend and hew knew we wanted to spend the rest of his life with her. Right there, smack dab in Laramie Wyoming. They came in with a clear vision. They wanted a cake that had the Laramie skyline.
At Meringue, I am able to make cakes look like watercolor paintings by using tools including airbrushes, edible paints, fondant, paint brushes. Sometimes it looks a lot like an artist's studio in the kitchen. In 2003 I was a student at UW Barron County and I remember taking a watercolor class that I fell in love with. I would go home and paint landscapes over and over again. Who would have guessed a decade later I would be using those skills on a wedding cake?
As a professional baker, Pinterest and other blogging websites have become a tool I use every day to keep up with current trends. Over the years I consciously become smarter choosing at searching for recipes. I have also seen the “Pinterest fails” in my own kitchen and I wanted to share some basic “tools” to take with you as you search and ultimately successfully bake in your own kitchen.
1. Trust your source, not the picture. The internet is flooded with recipes that anyone can post. Look for recipes that have more than 20 reviews. Until you find a blogger/source you trust do not assume the recipe is written accurately, or that the beautiful picture reflects how the dessert tastes. The same is true of cookbooks. I have learned this lesson the hard way and have been continuously disappointed by randomly picking a recipe based solely on how well the picture was taken, not the reputation of the source.
2. Practice makes perfect OR stick with what you know. Let me tell you a story from my baking past: I was going to a party where I wanted to make an impression. I thought making homemade caramels would be just the trick and I had never made them before. In reality they were too oozy, created a huge mess, and the chick that brought in a dessert sampler from Sam’s Club saved the day. Give yourself enough time to run a test batch. If you are in a time crunch: it is better to stick with what you know than risk wasting your time, food cost, and pride.
3. Follow baking recipes exactly. There are some minor changes you can make: like substituting out nutmeg for cloves, or milk for buttermilk. Generally, you owe it to the recipe to follow it exactly the first time you make it. You can start putting your own twist on it AFTER you have made it at least once.
4. Set a timer, literally. When you start your internet search give yourself a time limit. If you are spending more than 5 minutes searching for a specific recipe you have fallen into the Pinterest trap and you need to get out fast!
5. I dislike any recipe that says you can use a plastic Zip Lock bag to use as a piping bag. IT NEVER WORKS like you want it to. Invest in a real piping bag with basic tips. You can find them at any Walmart or hobby store. If you do not have a piping bag it is better to go with a “rustic” look and embrace imperfection. Do not try and decorate a fancy dessert with the wrong equipment.
6. Know the importance of consistent portioning. When you bake a cupcake or a cookie, the best tip I can give you is to use a scoop to portion. This has everything to do with bake time. Think about it: If a smaller cookie bakes faster than a larger cookie you are going to have a sheet full of cookies that are either baked too long, or under baked.
7.0 The last rule: Stop dreaming about baking and actually do it! Homemade baking is so rare these days and it truly is a way to show you love and care about someone. Take risks, have fun, and if all else fails: listen to eighties love ballads and drink alcohol while you are in the kitchen